Accelerating Attacks on What’s Left of U.S. Public Post Office

The United States Postal Service (USPS) recently released its financial statement for January 2013. Similar to Canada Post Corporation, which announced earlier this year that it was facing a $327 million operating loss for the past year, the USPS claims that there is a net loss of $436 million for the month and a $1.7 billion loss for the first four months of the fiscal year.

In both countries, the monopoly media and politicians who are spokesmen for the corporations have wasted no time in questioning the viability of the public post office. Dire predictions are made about declining mail volumes due to the internet and other new technologies and all this is being used to call for more cut-backs in services and closing more post offices in both countries.

A close examination of the facts shows that the howling about the impending “demise” of the post office is all lies to cover up that monopoly corporations and the government are working hand-in-hand to privatize various parts of the postal service which turn out to be very profitable.[1]

On closer examination of the financial report of the USPS for January 2013, it turns out that the $436 million loss is actually a $261 million profit for that period.

The report shows that in the U.S. First Class revenues are down slightly less than 1 per cent, while Standard Mail revenues are up 2.6 per cent. Periodicals are up nearly 3 per cent and Packages are up over 4 per cent. Total revenues are up 4.4 per cent for the month and up almost one percent for the year to date (YTD, October-January).

Considering the weakness in the American economy at this time it is not unreasonable to expect revenues to follow the trend in the economy like any other enterprise.

The USPS put out its alarmist statement about a financial loss by including two key numbers which they omitted to explain had nothing to do with mail volumes or the efficiency of the postal service. The first expense is $467 million which is a prepayment required by Congress to the Retiree Healthcare Benefit Fund (RHBF). This payment, which amounts to $5.5 billion per year, is a mechanism imposed by Congress to bankrupt the USPS by forcing it to pay these benefits in advance to cover 75 years of workers’ benefits within ten years of payments. This is totally unreasonable and unnecessary legislation and the Postal Service should not be required to contribute that much to the fund.

The other expense which was not explained is the $231 million paid out as retirement incentives to tens of thousands of postal workers whose jobs the USPS wanted to eliminate. It is dishonest to include this expense as operating costs since the incentive buyouts were a one-time expense and not a regular operating cost.

The USPS is using this manufactured “financial crisis” to accelerate post office closures. The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) expressed its outrage at USPS plans to accelerate the closure of 71 mail processing plants that were originally slated for possible consolidation in 2014. In their statement they said, “These closures will eliminate jobs, harm communities, and delay mail delivery every day — Monday, through Saturday. The consolidations will drastically curtail local mail sortation and will virtually eliminate overnight delivery.” The USPS notified the APWU on March 26 that it would implement 53 consolidations this year that were originally scheduled for 2014. In January, the Postal Service said it would accelerate implementation of 18 other closures. It is the height of hypocrisy for the USPS to cut tens of thousands of jobs, sell off retail outlets, close processing plants, contract out more of the work normally done by postal workers thus creating the greatest difficulties for fewer workers doing more work. Faced with such difficulties the financial report shows that total revenues are up 4.4 per cent in January 2013, which indicates the significantly higher level of exploitation faced by U.S. postal workers and the need to expose the lies of the monopolies who want to privatize and increase that exploitation even more.

– Louis Lang –

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